I Feel Judged by Liberals. Even Though I’m Liberal.

Dear liberal friend,

It scares me to write this: I feel policed by you, even though I’m liberal.

I hold many of the same views that you claim to hold, yet if I fail to fall in line with each and every one of your acceptable ideals, I am likely to be berated. The only reason I am capable of writing this is because I have spoken with liberal friends who agree that they feel they have to tread lightly. What if I told you I don’t support lax laws around abortion? It doesn’t matter if I believe this or not. My point is this—it would not be OK for me to say out loud. Imagine the names I would be called.

Unfortunately, as Reihan Salam recently wrote in The Atlantic, the socially liberal views we subscribe to are formed by affluent, college-educated people, and “these views are actually rather censorious,” or severely critical of others. He calls it “competitive wokeness.” I come from a working class background, and the things I have heard from fellow liberals about or against people like my family would shock you. At least, I hope it would shock you.

“All people with southern accents are ignorant.”

“I’m going to attend a Trump rally and start throwing sucker punches.”

“I have no interest in visiting the South. My values don’t align.”

This last one I heard on a podcast, said by someone who lives in a camper van in California—he declared an entire region of the country as unworthy of a visit. That is absurd, and not only because he’s including New Orleans in there. Like I said, I hope these things shock you. But I’m not convinced they will.

After the white nationalist rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville turned violent, you let loose your Facebook cry against the racists involved, yet you missed one glaringly obvious fact—how little you do in your day-to-day to fight your own internal racism and classism. Do you cross the street when you see a black person coming? Do you treat your bus driver with respect or do you ignore him? Do you thank the cleaning staff in your building for their contributions to your work environment? Do you take the time to listen to people of color in your life?

Maybe you already are “woke” about all these things, and more. But maybe not. Maybe you have found it easier to point fingers at those you classify as “other.” You may consider yourself impervious to issues like racism, classism, and sexism because of your voting record. I am here to tell you that is an absolute farce.

I am imperfect, and only recently—in the last few years—have I started taking a hard look at my own internal prejudices. But because of this work, my eyes are opened to the number of people who continue to refuse to look inward. Who believe pointing away from themselves is enough. You may be one of them.

I am a proud member of the “exhausted majority,” meaning I’m tired of the polarized rhetoric, I’m relatively flexible in my political beliefs, and I don’t feel like I have a voice in the larger picture. And it feels wrong for me to say these things to you.

If I’m afraid to speak out about the things I believe, isn’t there something wrong here?

Until next time,

My signature

6 thoughts on “I Feel Judged by Liberals. Even Though I’m Liberal.”

  1. I totally agree with what you are saying. I believe I’m liberal too but whenever my thoughts are a little more conservative or just slightly different than other liberals, I feel like I did something wrong, when really I’m allowed to believe in what I choose to. Thanks for the blog!

  2. “After the white nationalist rally in August 2017… ”
    I’m all for calling-out racism online, but I do agree that that can’t be where your social conscience begins and ends. It’s easy to click repost but I don’t think we consider our tangible impact enough. Like, what organizations are you supporting with your time and dollars? Who are you actually having these discussions with? How much credence would you give to a stranger online with an opposing viewpoint? Clearly the social media route alone is not enough.

  3. Tiffany, you make very good points. I’ve considered myself an ‘Independent’ for a long time. I grew up during the 60s/70s which was a very liberating period, and found myself most of the time on the ‘Liberal’ side, but with a few conservative thoughts as well. For some reason, people just cannot understand how you cannot be 100% with them on all things. It’s not closed mindedness necessarily, but for some reason, some people’s minds just can’t go that direction in thinking. People like to think in black and white. People only want to hear, yes or no for a question. And are you with them 100% or not. Maybe it’s just me. I find it very difficult to just say yes or no. There can be so much more to a question than a one word simple response. And this has been happening, probably since the beginning of time. So hang in there, and ALWAYS stand up for what you believe, and not what others believe. Oh and yes it happens on the other side (Conservative) too, because through my years I have grown more to that side of the line. But I still consider mself to be an ‘Independent’. Hope I haven’t confused you too much. Sometimes I just continually write without making it all come together, or straying from the original subject.

    Tom (Indiana)

    1. Thanks, Tom! I’m glad to hear my words rang true. And yes, you should be thinking more deeply about an issue than just taking a side. Everything is more complicated than that. I appreciate your thoughts.

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